Hearing aids can be very pricey; including the associated audiologist appointments and hearing aid maintenance. For this reason, hard of hearing individuals often pose the question: does any medical plan cover hearing aids? Now, while the elderly account for a large portion of the hearing aid wearing population they ironically also struggle the most with associated costs, due to tight pensions and a lack of financial income. Therefore, it’s important to know what medicare is, and what it does and does not cover in terms of hearing aids.
What is Medicare, and who is it for?
Medicare is a government-funded insurance program only applicable to you if you are:
- Aged 65 or older
- Suffering from end-stage kidney disease
- A young person with a certain disability
As an insurance program, it facilitates a range of health related costs to help those who are more prone to illness, like the elderly. There are 4 parts to the medicare program: A, B, C and D; each part covers different elements of the healthcare system, so it’s important you first pick the part which is most relevant to your health problems.
Medicare Federal Health Insurance Program
How Does Medicare Benefit The Hearing Impaired?
Well, it depends on which part of the scheme you have picked. Different parts of the medicare program cover different costs associated with hearing impairment. Costs such as hearing exams, hearing aids, hearing aid fittings, and hearing aid servicing.
Part A and B Medicare Cover
Part A and B don’t cover most hearing aid related costs; like fitting appointments, the actual hearing aid and any hearing examinations specifically for the purpose of selecting or calibrating a hearing aid.
On the up side, they do cover diagnostic hearing exams, but only when taken upon referral from your doctor. However, only part of the cost is actually covered and you will still have to pay the remaining amount plus 20% of the approved medicare cost.
Does Medicare Advantage Cover Hearing Aids in 2023?
Medicare advantage is just medicare part C. This part of medicare includes both parts A and , coupled with a private insurance plan. Thus, the coverage actually depends on the insurance plan you’ve chosen. Having said that, most part C plans include significant cost coverage of hearing services and part of the hearing aid itself. It’s important to contact your private insurance provider and ask them about the hearing service benefits included in your plan. You can also reach out to medicare for further guidance.
Ways To Cut The Costs Of Hearing Aids
As far as help with hearing-related costs go, medicare isn’t much of a help. Yes, you may get significant cover on your initial hearing assessment and on hearing aid, depending on your plan; but overall, this is very little help when all the costs are taken into consideration. Hearing aids are often very expensive, but repeated audiologist visits make it a lot worse. Hearing aids usually require multiple tweaks, on separate appointments, by the audiologist to perfectly match your hearing loss.
So, are there any cheaper alternatives out there to curb these hefty costs?
Consider Cheaper Hearing Aids
While hearing aids are often found to cost around the $4000 mark, economical variants do exist. More visible, over-the-ear, hearing aids are usually much cheaper than they're less visible counterparts. In-the-ear and in-the-canal hearing aids can be very pricey, due to customisation of the exterior involved. Remember, your first priority should be to treat your hearing loss; aesthetically pleasing hearing aids should be selected in accordance with your budget.
Skip The Audiologist Fees
Over-the-counter hearing aids work out miles cheaper because they don't require an audiologist’s prescription or calibration. This way, you can bypass the expensive audiologist fees.
Now, you might be thinking: without a hearing professional how will the hearing aid be personalized to my hearing loss?
Thanks to modern technology developed by sound engineers, some bluetooth hearing aids are calibrated using an app on your smart device. This application usually includes a free online hearing test, like the ‘My Acuity App by Hear+Hi’, of which the results produced automatically adjust the hearing aid to match the detected hearing loss.
Bluetooth Hearing Aids Which Can Are Personalized Using An App
Overall, it’s important to gage your hearing loss and whether the benefits of medicare are truly worth it. If you have other illnesses alongside hearing loss, then medicare is a good way to go. But, solely for hearing loss, it might not be worth it as only one hearing exam is covered and at most part of the cost of your hearing aid. If you’re on a tight budget, looking into cheaper options which bypass all the audiologist appointments could save you a lot of money.
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids For Tinnitus?
Unfortunately, just like with hearing aids needed for hearing loss, medicare doesn’t offer cover for those bought to treat tinnitus. Depending on the private insurance plan you select, Medicare Advantage may cover part of the cost.
Does Medicare Supplement Pay For Hearing Aids?
As with all other medicare plans, hearing aids are not included in Medigap (Medicare supplement). However, you could purchase an add-on plan for to cover hearing related health services.
How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost With Medicare?
Medicare Advantage (part C) often includes cover of hearing aids, but only part of the cost. The exact amount depends on the private insurance plan you bundle your Medicare with, however on average the cost is only reduced by 21%. The end cost depends on the price of the hearing device you select. However, even with Part C, the money you spend out of pocket is still high, like upwards of $495 to $1600.